Haim Saban

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Haim Saban is an Israeli-American media-mogul, one of the biggest contributors to the campaigns of pro-Israel politicans in the U.S. and has been described by a New York Times reporter as a "tireless cheerleader for Israel." He has also founded various centers and institutions to produce policy research favorable to Israel. He is a financial donor and founder of the Saban Institute for the Study of the American Political System at the University of Tel Aviv. In 2002 he pledged $13 million to found the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution."[1] He controls the ProSieben a media group in Germany that is for this market what the "control of a company that owns the rough equivalent of CBS, ABC, TBS and Nickelodeon" in the US; Saban owns 77% of the largest German TV conglomerate.[2] Saban also bought Univision Communications Inc., the largest Spanish-broadcasting television company in the US.[2] The Spanish-language channels/radios have been used to broadcast pro-Israeli propaganda.[3][4]

Citizen Saban

Saban is the founder of Saban Entertainment and Fox Family Worldwide. More recently, he has made significant new gains. In 2003 he bought ProSiebenSat.1, Germany's largest privately-owned television network. [5] In 2006, he acquired Univision Communications, the largest Spanish-broadcasting television company in the US for the price of USD 12.3 billion. [6] According to the Economist:

At a broadcasting-industry conference last month in Cambridge, [Saban] not only expressed interest in acquiring ITV, but then went on to accuse the BBC and Sky News, a British satellite-channel owned by Rupert Murdoch, of putting out biased, overly pro-Arab coverage of the Middle East... His audience was left with the impression that this was “a man motivated by editorial concerns, not a businessman,” as one broadcasting executive put it. Officials at Ofcom, Britain's new media regulator, were amazed by what one called his "pig-ignorant" behaviour.[5]

After Israel's Telecommunications monopoly Bezeq was privatized in 2005, a consortium headed by Saban acquired a 30% controlling stake in the company.[7]

Buying Influence

Saban was one of the major contributors to the former California governor Gray Davis, and in return Davis appointed him to the board of regents of the University of California. However, more recently, Saban, along with Steven Spielberg, have shifted their loyalties to Arnold Schwarzenegger after the new California governor's unequivocal support for Israel's latest invasion of Lebanon. [8] Earlier, similar contributions had earned Saban rewards from the Clinton administration:

Last September [1999], the Federal Trade Commission issued a report concluding that broadcasters were targeting violent content to kids, and Al Gore pledged to regulate children's programming unless the industry policed itself. Fox Broadcasting, which has been negotiating to buy out Saban's share of Fox Family Worldwide, joined several companies in agreeing to stop marketing adult-rated movies during TV shows aimed at young viewers. The month the report was released, Saban co-hosted a $3.5 million fundraiser for the Democrats with producer-director Rob Reiner (No. 371, $161,300), Warner Brothers President Alan Horn (No. 139, $290,750), and grocery magnate Ron Burkle (No. 102, $330,000). George W. Bush blasted his opponent for accepting contributions from an industry he had criticized; Gore insisted he was willing to take a stand against his financial supporters. Saban's generosity did not go unrewarded. During the Bill Clinton administration, the entertainment executive served on the President's Export Council, advising the White House on trade issues. He also took an unusual pride in being a top contributor. When Saban learned that another donor had topped his contributions to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee by a quarter-million dollars, he immediately sent the DCCC a check for $250,000, with a $1 bill attached to it. 'I hope this guy doesn't find out,' Saban told the Washington Post. 'He may send another two dollars.'

According to Ha'aretz reporter Ari Shavit:

Since he lost the hold he had in the White House through his good friends Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution and the Saban Forum have become his levers of influence on political Washington and on Jerusalem...the ability of the colorful Israeli-American billionaire to bring together Ariel Sharon and Bill Clinton, Shimon Peres and Henry Kissinger, Tzipi Livni and Condoleezza Rice has become one of the achievements of which he is proud.[9]

According to Nico Pitney and Sam Stein authors of, "Superdelegates turned down $1 million offer from Clinton donor." published in The Huffington Post:

One of Sen. Hillary Clinton's top financial supporters offered $1 million to the Young Democrats of America during a phone conversation in which he also pressed for the organization's two uncommitted superdelegates to endorse the New York Democrat, a high-ranking official with YDA told The Huffington Post. Haim Saban, the billionaire entertainment magnate and longtime Clinton supporter, denied the allegation. But four independent sources said that just before the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, Saban called YDA President David Hardt and offered what was perceived as a lucrative proposal: $1 million would be made available for the group if Hardt and the organization's other uncommitted superdelegate backed Clinton. Contacted about the report, Saban, initially very friendly, became curt. "Not true," he said, "it's simply not true." He declined to elaborate. Did he talk to the YDA superdelegate? "I talk to many, many superdelegates. Some I don't even remember their names." Did he propose any financial transaction? "I have never offered them or anybody any money" in exchange for support or a vote, he said. The Clinton campaign did not return a request for comment. Members of the Young Democrats agonized about the potential fallout of Saban's call; his financial offer represented one-third of the group's 2008 budget. Democratic officials and fundraisers were consulted about how to respond, and at times the discussions were "emotional," one participant said. "It is scary for them, Haim is very powerful, he has great influence over donors who give to them."

Friends in High Places

Ariel Sharon

"To me he will always be a dear personal friend. Haim Saban is a great American citizen and a man who always stood by Israel and the Jewish people in times of need. His contribution to strengthening ties between Israel and American political leaders from all parties has been quite remarkable and outstanding." (Sharon on Saban)

Bill Clinton

New York Times reporter, Andrew Ross Sorkin, noted that: [1]

He and his wife, Cheryl…, slept in the White House several times during President Clinton’s two terms.
Mr. Saban has not been shy about calling on his political friends to help sell advertising, too. This year, he invited Germany’s most prominent advertising executives to his home in Los Angeles for dinner with Mr. Clinton. The executives, he said, were stunned…

Clinton had the following to Say about Saban:

"Haim Saban has been a very good friend, supporter and adviser to me,” Mr. Clinton said in an e-mail message. “I am grateful for his commitment to Israel, to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and to my foundation’s work, particularly on reconciliation issues."

As for Saban's vision for a "just and lasting peace":

"I think that any resolution will have to go both on the Palestinian side and Israeli side to some form of civil war. It’s not going to be without spilling blood."

Quotes

I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel.[1]

Affiliations

Related Articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Andrew Ross Sorkin, “Schlepping to Moguldom, New York Times, 5 Sept 2004.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nimrod Avraham, Saban buys US TV company, Ynet, 29 June 2006
  3. Grant Smith, Israel Lobby Initiates Hispanic Strategy: "Invadimos a Iran", Institute for Research: Middle East Policy, 4 October 2006.
  4. Charles Davis, Univision goes neoconservative, Al Jazeera, 16 February 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Barbarian at the gates?, The Economist, 2 October 2003.
  6. Nimrod Avraham, Saban buys US TV company, YNet, 29 June 29, 2006.
  7. Saban gets Israel telecoms stake, BBC, 9 May 2005.
  8. Tom Chorneau, Is Angelides running out of time, money? Clinton brings in $1 million, but it may not be enough, San Francisco Chronicle, 11 August 2006.
  9. Ari Shavit, ‘You made it big, you jerk!’, Ha’aretz, 8 December 2006.
  10. International Board of Governors, Peres Center for Peace, accessed February 19, 2010.